Keeping Faith with the Party

Keeping Faith with the Party

Communist Believers Return from the Gulag
Nanci Adler
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 03/05/2012
Format: Paperback 15 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-22379-1
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How is it that some prisoners of the Soviet gulag—many of them falsely convicted—emerged from the camps maintaining their loyalty to the party that was responsible for their internment? In camp, they had struggled to survive. Afterward they struggled to reintegrate with society, reunite with their loved ones, and sometimes renew Party ties. Based on oral histories, archives, and unpublished memoirs, Keeping Faith with the Party chronicles the stories of returnees who professed enduring belief in the CPSU and the Communist project. Nanci Adler's probing investigation brings a deeper understanding of the dynamics of Soviet Communism and of how individuals survive within repressive regimes while the repressive regimes also survive within them.

Author Bio

Nanci Adler is Associate Professor at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the University of Amsterdam. She is author of The Gulag Survivor: Beyond the Soviet System, Victims of Soviet Terror: The Story of the Memorial Movement, and numerous scholarly articles on the gulag, political rehabilitations, and the consequences of Stalinism.


“Based on oral histories, archives, and unpublished memoirs, Keeping Faith with the Party chronicles the stories of returnees who professed enduring belief in the CPSU and the Communist project. This probing investigation brings a deeper understanding of the Soviet Communism and of how individuals survive within repressive regimes.”

“This valuable book contains an enormous amount of information about a group of gulag survivors who retained their love of Communism and its Soviet proponents even after many years of torture at their hands. The theme . . . has never been subjected to a study even close to Adler's in detail and rigor.”
 — Alexander Etkind, author of Eros Of The Impossible: The History Of Psychoanalysis In Russia

“One of the achievements of this book is that while explaining the experience of the Communist 'true believers' among Gulag victims in terms of sociological notions that were not available to the subjects themselves, Adler manages to maintain human sympathy for these people as well as sensitivity to their special Soviet predicaments.”
 — Leona Toker, author of Return from the Gulag: Narratives of Gulag Survivors (IUP, 2000)

“In a compelling narrative that presents new information and important interdisciplinary insights, Nanci Adler takes readers through the traumatic aftermath of a long mass terror whose survivors struggle to cope with their shattered lives and sustain their Communist beliefs. For anyone interested in the Soviet Stalinist experience but also crimes against humanity elsewhere, this is an essential book.”
 — Stephen F. Cohen, author of Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War

“Nanci Adler’s fascinating and impressive new book on Gulag returnees focuses on the question of how a substantial number of communists punished by the Stalinist regime – often brutally and at length – could continue to maintain loyalty to the party and state while interned and even after release. The individual stories she tells to illustrate her answer are crucial for understanding the essence of the Soviet belief system.”
 — Norman M. Naimark, author of Stalin’s Genocides

“Adler’s insightful analyses of the views and attitudes of Communist camp survivors not just demonstrate, but help to understand the profound effects of Soviet ideology on those who had adopted it. They underscore that a central source of the Soviet system’s power, stability, and tenacity lay in the immaterial promise inherent in this ideology – the promise of answers to individuals’ quest for meaning and purpose.”
 — H-Soz-u-Kult

“In sum, this is a beautifully written book that should be read by all serious scholars of the post-Stalin Soviet Union.”
 — Slavic Review

“Through her own interviews with survivors, as well as an examination of published and unpublished memoirs, Adler astutely argues that these experiences are important for understanding how and why the memory of Stalin's Terrror and the Gulag remains ambivalent today. . . . Recommended. ”
 — Choice

“Nanci Adler continues her impressive research into life after the Gulag in her latest monograph, Keeping Faith with the Party. . . . In the burgeoning field of Gulag studies, Adler's book is a welcomed reminder that we still have much to learn from the memoirs themselves, even as we continue to mine the archives for useful information. ”
 — The Russian Review

“Adler’s book is bustling with creativity and ideas. It is a welcome addition to the excellent scholarship on this period for anyone with an interest in trauma, memory and the search for a useable past.”
 — European History Quarterly

“With a deft and sympathetic touch, Adler paints vivid portraits of survivors who made sense of their own fate by clinging to a belief in the worthiness of the Communist cause and the virtue of the Soviet Communist Party. ”
 — Gulag Studies

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Enduring Repression
1. The Gulag Prisoner and the Bolshevik Soul
2. Reconciling the Self with the System
3. Beyond Belief: Party Identification and the "Bright Future"
4. Striving for a "Happy Ending": Attempts to Rehabilitate Socialism
5. The Legacies of the Repression
Epilogue: The "Bright Past," or Whose (Hi)Story?
Works Cited

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